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The 2000 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Historical Society was held in Savannah this year, hosted by First Baptist Church. This edition of the journal contains presentations from the annual meeting, which had one of the best attendance records of recent years. The presentations revolved around the theme, "Reflections of Baptist Life in the Twentieth Century." Thomas Graves, president of Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, looked at developments in Baptist identity. Theological education, in a state of revision for many denominations, was explored by Alan Culpepper, dean of the McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University. Carolyn Blevins, associate professor of religion at Carson-Newman College, discussed Baptists and women's issues.

In addition to these thematic presentations, several other papers were presented. George Shriver, professor of history, emeritus, at Georgia Southern University, gave an overview of the history of the host institution, Savannah's First Baptist Church. Shriver recently completed Pilgrims through the Years: A Bicentennial History of First Baptist Church, Savannah, Georgia. Charles Deweese delivered a paper on longtime missiology professor and founder of the Society, W. O. Carver. Finally, in a city important to the origins of African-American Baptist life, two presentations had particular relevance. Andrew Manis who recently left Mercer University Press to join the history faculty of Macon State College, delivered a paper on Fred Shuttlesworth, the subject of Manis's 1999 biography, A Fire You Can't Put Out. Manis delivered his paper during the Friday evening session, held at First African Baptist Church in Savannah, the oldest African-American Baptist congregation in the United States. Sandy Martin, chair of the Department of Religion at the University of Georgia, prepared a paper exploring the work of black Baptists as missionaries in Africa and the impact this had on racial identity and self-awareness.

The journal and the Society owe thanks to many people and institutions for supporting this edition. First Baptist of Savannah and the church's pastor, John Finley, put much effort and spirit into hosting the annual meeting. First African Baptist, under the leadership of pastor Thurmond Tillman, invited meeting registrants to a worship service on Friday night. They were gracious hosts who provided a wonderful setting for the meeting in a wonderful city. Charles Deweese and Jim Taulman worked hard before and during the meeting to handle logistics.

Grace, Mel Hawkins
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Author:Hawkins, Merrill M., Jr.
Publication:Baptist History and Heritage
Date:Jun 22, 2000
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